The basil plant cultivation process is an art by itself. While herbs are pretty hardy plants and can possibly survive a lot of mistreatment, the plants thrive best when they are cultivated in a controlled process where all the variables are closely monitored and taken advantage of.
Basil are very sensitive to frost and hence care is taken to plant when the risk of running into frost before their harvesting period is slim.
The process of growing basil is as follows:
1. The ground is cultivated and the seeds planted into the ground placing them 12 inches apart. This is done to enable the plant to grow and leave space for the leaves to prosper and prevent obstruction from the sun.
In addition to the land being readied for planting, an analysis of the soil where the seeds are to be put is done to ensure the soil can hold on the water well enough to allow the plant to grow well. Mulching is also emphasized as a means to conserve the moisture in the soil and also to enhance the minerals and the productivity nature if the soil.
2. The basil takes a moderate amount of time, generally around 5 days for it to germinate out of the ground as long as the soil has a warm temperature and water.
3. When the plant has attained a set of leaves that are about eight of them, pinching is began on the plant. Pinching is a technique mainly used on herbs, of which the basil is one, to promote the growth of the twigs before flowering takes place. This dense twig nature aids in the harvesting of a high yield.
4. When the herb has finally matured, it is harvested. Care has to be taken when harvesting it so as to ensure that another optimal yield will be possible with the same plant. The scent and flavor oils present in the Thai basil are important and the best yield is present when these are preserved. It is widely known that the scents are best preserved when the harvesting is done under low temperatures. Because of this, the harvesting normally happens in the morning.
When the processes outlined above are followed to the letter, the plant and resultant yield is high in flavor and scent and also the healthiest. However, a point to note is that, for a herb, high quality basil is a pretty difficult plant to grow effectively and to maintain and as such is best left to the experts to do it. When searching for the plant for your culinary needs, an important thing to consider is how fresh it is. Fresh basil is the best as even its flavors are the best defined.